It was only by chance that Don Ince purchased what turned out to be Jim Morrison’s 1968 Honda 305 Scrambler. “The bike was never advertised as having been owned by him and I only learned this after I purchased it. I really had no idea and neither did the seller,” Ince says. No pictures have surfaced showing Morrison, lead singer for legendary 1960s rock band The Doors, on a motorcycle, a fact that only adds to the Honda’s intrigue. Jim Morrison died in 1971 of a suspected drug overdose.
Ince, the owner of California-based Vintage Viking Motors, found the Honda on Craigslist last July. Only after carefully researching release of liability records and DMV registrations did Ince learn of the bike’s historical significance. “The serial number and frame number matched the DMV registration of James Morrison. I was able to link these numbers to his license number back in late 1968. An application for a duplicate title listed a Wilshire Boulevard address and a Sunset address. It’s known he resided at both these California addresses,” Ince says. Ince also referred to release of liability paperwork linking the singer’s management company to the bike. “The release of liability after Jim’s death came from Johnson & Harband, which was his financial management company. Putting this together with the DMV records and his addresses, we have confirmation that this was in fact Jim Morrison’s.”
But it turns out that the singer might not have been the only celebrity to have owned the Honda 305 Scrambler. The release of liability records from Johnson & Harband in 1971 also show the name Kenneth Howard of Calabasas, Calif., attached to the Honda following Morrison’s death. Kenneth Howard was the given name of legendary builder and artist Von Dutch.
Ince isn’t claiming the bike was owned by Von Dutch, but he does think it’s possible. “There’s a pretty good chance it was owned by him,” Ince says. “Looking carefully at the paint scheme, it’s reminiscent of his style. The time frame fits, but who knows? There could be another Kenneth Howard from that area.” If true, the Von Dutch connection certainly increases the bike’s value.
Ince, who gave $2,000 for the bike, says it’s taken $2,500 worth of work just to get the engine back into running shape. “Everything about it is really cool. It pulls well and can comfortably do 70,” he says. Ince recently listed the bike on eBay for $225,000, but it was a no-sale. “I knew the price was high, but it was OK that it didn’t work out. I have two standing offers for $75,000,” he adds.
The Jim Morrison Honda was on display at August’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but failed to sell despite strong interest. Assuming it’s still available, Morrison’s Honda 305 Scrambler will be on hand for MidAmerica Auctions’ January 2013 auction in Las Vegas, but at a price. “The magic number is $125,000,” Ince says.